2005 Honda Has Trouble Starting

I have a 2005 Honda Civic that started having trouble starting last summer. When I turn the key, all of the lights come on but the engine doesn’t turn over. Over the course of the year, I have:

1) Had the battery replaced (not the problem)

2) Had the alternator checked (not the problem)

3) Had the wires to the solenoid starter repaired (fixed it for a while but now it is acting up again).

I have learned that:

1) If I turn the key and hold it there it will eventually start. This can take up to 30 seconds and multiple tries.

2) It is most likely to act up after the car has been run and then turned off for a short period of time (less than an hour). In the morning and after work, when the car has been sitting for 8+ hours, I rarely have this problem.

3) It will start up just fine with jumper cables.

My mechanic is baffled and thinks it’s the starter, but this is a $300+ fix. I think it’s electrical.

Any ideas?? Help!! Thanks!!!

Probably the starter or a starter relay or a loose connection.

Take off your battery connections, clean them and tighten.

Try hitting the starter (with a wood broom handle or bat maybe) while trying to start it - see if this does anything. If that makes it start, you’ve nailed it down to the starter.

Change it out yourself or have someone handy do it - it should only take an hour.

You don’t have to buy the part from the dealer either.

This sounds like a starter problem all right. But, even if the battery is new and fully charged, the terminal posts, the lugs from the leads, and if the lugs are not integrel to the cables, there can be oxidation of the connections that will cause this kind of problem. However, the fact that you have more of a problem when the thing is hot, also points to the starter. It could be a combination of both poor contact at the battery, and a failing starter. It is cheep and easy to clean the terminals so do that first. If that does not help, change the starter. It should not cost anywhere near 300 bucks though.

Thank you both. I should have mentioned that when the battery was initially replaced that the was some oxidation so the wires were all fully cleaned and tightened. So that’s not the culprit either. Unfortunately for me, I was told that in the Civic, the solenoid and starter are combined so I have to replace the whole thing, which is where the cost comes in.

My husband will probably enjoy hitting the starter with a bat - we will try that!

The turn the key and hold it there then it will start has me curious what is really going on. Not starting can mean a few different things so in the mix and match world of terminology I am wondering if it cranks but will not start after 30 seconds is what you mean. If so if you have a fuel bleed down it may take 30 seconds for the pump to get the pressure up to snuff. Try turning the key to the on position, wait until you (if you can) hear the fuel pump stop, as that means the fuel system is pressurized, if you can’t hear the pump leave it on for a minute then try and start it. Let us know how this test goes.

What happens when I turn the key: the lights on the dash come on, the radio comes on, the beeping noise to buckle your seat belt goes off, but otherwise there is silence - no cranking, no nothing. When the engine does eventually start after holding the turned key, it sounds like it normally does - no extra cranking and I’ve never noticed the fuel pump.

Thank you!

I would be leaning towards either an ignition switch or neutral safety switch problem since it sounds like the starter solenoid is not engaging.

If the car has an automatic transmision try shifting into NEUTRAL and see what happens. If it always starts like this the neutral switch is likely faulty.

As to the ignition switch, many Hondas are under Recall for ignition switch problems. I don’t think your particular model is but that doesn’t mean that it can’t have the same problems as the affected vehicles.

There’s a lot of politics involved in Recalls and the car makers do their best to make sure the pool of Recalled vehicles is as small as possible.
I’m in agreement with you that this problem is more basic electrical than it is the starter motor.

Thank you - my car has a manual transmission, so it’s always in neutral when I start it. I am interested in the idea of the ignition switch. I will talk to my mechanic about this and find out if Honda should be responsible for paying for it.

Do you have to have the clutch engaged for it to crank? Maybe a safety switch is misbehaving and doesn’t know your foot is on the clutch or brake.

Yes, I always have the clutch depressed when starting. Interesting . . . my father-in-law suggested this as a potential problem a while back. The main trouble with trying to get this diagnosed is that it doesn’t act up when my mechanic has it. I even got frustrated and took it to a Honda dealer, and they were unable to re-create the problem, and hence, diagnose it. I may just get an estimate from my mechanic for replacing the safety switch and ignition switch and see if that takes care of it.

I’m seeing that the manual transmission models come with nippondenso starters. I don’t know what percentage of them do, but if you can see the starter brand then this might help you. Denso starters have contacts in the solenoid that tend to wear abnormally quickly and cause symptoms that you describe. The contacts are cheap, something like $10 each. I replaced both in a lexus RX300, but only one was needed. Not hard to do if you are somewhat mechanically inclined, but your mechanic would probably be the better choice to do it. You would have to pull the starter and inspect the terminals in the solenoid to get the right one, or set. Seems like a common problem that came up pretty quickly on an internet search. Several auto-electric places sell just the terminals.